Ash Barty’s No.1 ranking defence has taken a massive hit after bombing out of the Adelaide International in straight-sets to American Danielle Collins.
Despite her recent setbacks and not having competed for nearly a year, Barty is still miles clear atop the rankings, with Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka languishing in second over 1000 points behind.
Since the 2018 US Open final, Osaka has won four of the nine grand slams held. No other player has won more than one.
Barty has only reached the semi-finals of a Grand Slam twice in her career, and, with Polish youngster Iga Swiatek winning the French Open while Barty was absent from the tour, the Aussie star can no longer claim to be a current holder of any of the four Slams.
The are growing concerns around the game that the WTA rankings may need reassessing after the governing body introduced dramatic changes to its system as a result of the tour being derailed by COVID-19.
Those changes greatly benefitted Barty who was thrust to World No.1 under the new system which relied heavily on her red-hot second half of the 2019 season.
In order to silence her critics, Barty needs a strong showing throughout the first half of 2021, but those plans have appeared to already have taken a massive hit with her 6-3 6-4 capitulation at Memorial Drive on Wednesday night.
Compounding her woes, a niggling thigh injury will now keep her from competing in the Qatar Total Open, a crucial stop on the WTA tour with plenty of ranking points up for grabs.
However, true to form, the Aussie is refusing to let her latest setbacks get her down as she grapples with public expectation and varying results.
“You know that there are no easy matches going into any tournament,” Barty said after crashing out of the Adelaide International.
“From an expectation of a public point of view, I think that (winning all the time) is their views and that’s their opinions and they are 100 per cent able to voice those.
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“But I think from a playing perspective, it’s about what do we expect from us as players and what do we bring to the court each day. We bring the right professionalism and prepare in the right way.
“And in the end, the result, it just is what it is, it’s not always going to go your way.
“You can’t win every single tennis match. But you can sure as hell approach it the right way.
“And from my team and from me, we did that this week and we just didn’t quite get that result.”